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Put me in coach, I’m ready to play today!

Ahmad Bradshaw should be the starting running back.

Can you hear me Tom Coughlin?  Ahmad Bradshaw is your best running back.  Let him start! 

When training camp began earlier this month, there was speculation Bradshaw might become the starter.  Because he was taking the majority of snaps with the first team offense,  this fueled the possibility of Bradshaw unseating Brandon Jacobs as the number one running back.  As Bradshaw began taking THREE times the amount of rushing attempts, Giants’ NY Post beat writer Paul Schwartz took notice. 

 This cannot be explained away as merely keeping Jacobs fresh because he’s coming off knee surgery. Bradshaw is coming off three separate surgeries, as screws were inserted to stabilize the fifth metatarsal bones on the outside of both feet and bone spurs were removed from his right ankle.

When head coach Tom Coughlin was asked about Bradshaw getting most of the workload,  he bristled at this fanciful thinking.
“You guys are all hung up on that stuff,” said Coughlin.  “All I want is healthy bodies and depth. They’ll all be utilized and, as you know, there are a lot of games to play.”

At that time, although Coughlin downplayed a potential controversy, as the start of the season is almost upon us, Bradshaw appears to a more effective runner than Jacobs.  So far during the preseason games,  Bradshaw looks much better than Jacobs.  However,  former Redskins assistant head coach Richie Petitbon  said the following about preseason games:

“Preseason games are the biggest mirage in pro sports,” he said. “You rarely learn anything from those games that you didn’t know from your practices. You want to come out of the preseason games healthy. You want to take a look at your younger players to see how well they have progressed in the offseason both physically and mentally and get the veteran guys back in the football groove for the regular season. But you won’t really know about your weaknesses until you hit the regular season. When it all becomes real ,the veterans turn up the intensity dial and you find out quickly what is really real in this business.”

Even though there is a kernal of truth to Petitbon’s credo,  I am not so sure Jacobs will be able to turn up the intensity dial.   After a disappointing 2009 season,  the Giants are still scratching their heads on Jacobs lack of production.  A clueless Kevin Gilbride  offered his explanation on Jacobs:  “I don’t know. We don’t know,” Gilbride said. “He wasn’t as effective, so I’m going to say it’s his knee. That’s the only way I can try to begin to explain it, but with anything it’s never just one thing. Maybe we didn’t block some things so well, maybe he didn’t make some good decisions quite as often, maybe I didn’t call the plays at the right times. Who knows?”

Gilpuke got part of it right.   (maybe I didn’t call the plays at the right times. Who knows?)

 Here at UltimateNYG,  Andy has noted Kevin Gilbride being the weakest link.  Because of his questionable play calling,  the Giants do not utilize some of their offensive weapons appropriately. ie Kevin Boss and Ahmad Bradshaw.  It is my belief, Gilbride is too predictable. This predictability is the main reason for Jacobs decline. Indeed, Jacobs sustained a knee injury in week one, however, opposing teams know when Jacobs is in the game, it is most likely going to be a running play.  And Jacobs flaw as a runner is his inability to run off the edge.  Opposing teams know this.  Take into consideration the Eli “Gash” play.  On this particular play a third  and 1 in the red zone,  Jacobs was lined up in the backfield.  As a result of this telltale GilPuke formation ( Screaming to everyone, Jacobs is getting a Handoff)  the Jets defense lined up in a diamond formation.  By lining up in a diamond look, the Jets defensive front clogged the middle of line.  The Jets know Jacobs is getting the ball and he is going to run up the gut.  Even though Jacobs did not receive the football on this play,  GilPuke is not allowing Jacobs to succeed.  Additionally, Jacobs weakness is his inability to run off the edge.  Recall, the 2006 Dallas vs Giants matchup at the Meadowlands.  On a crucial 4th and 1 on the Dallas 24 yard line late in the second quarter, Coughlin decided to go for it.  Gilbride dials up a run play to Jacobs.  On this play,  in order to get to the sticks, Jacobs attempts to run wide.  Unbeknownst to Jacobs,  a determined DeMarcus Ware pulled down Jacobs for a three yard loss. 

On the other hand,  Ahmad Bradshaw can rush outside the numbers.  His ability to run wide, certainly, can compensate for any of GilPuke’s inept play calling.  For example, let us look on Bradshaw’s fantastic red zone touchdown run.  Please fast forward this video to the 1:44 mark. 

 In order to be an elite running back, a must is vision. Bradshaw has great vision.  Being able to see which open hole to run through is crucial.  When Bradshaw received the handoff,  this play appeared to be an inside run.  However, there was no daylight.  Subsequently,  Bradshaw saw a running lane outside.  His quickness enabled him to run outside the numbers.  Consequently,  Bradshaw was able to get into the end zone untouched.  On the telecast, Carl Banks mentioned the 2009 Giants struggled running the ball in the red zone.  In fact, in the last two years, the Giants red zone touchdown percentage has been atrocious.  In 2007, they were  respectable 12th in the league.  But in 2008 and 2009,  the Giants took a nose dive.  Despite have the most red zone opportunities in 2008, the Giants finished 20th overall.  Last year was a repeat. With Gilbride continuing his inane play calling, the Giants finished 21st.

 Perhaps if Bradshaw received the ball more especially in the red zone, the Giants fortunes will change.    

Moreover, unlike Jacobs, Bradshaw is an outstanding pass catcher.  When Bradshaw is in space, he can make plays.  Andy has been stating this time and time again.  Get Bradshaw the ball in space. 

Bradshaw is more dynamic than Jacobs.  We can only hope Coughlin makes a prudent decision. 

Start Bradshaw on opening day.